Hidden Figures

My Top Ten Films of 2017

With a few days left of 2018 it’s time for another best-of-the-year list! If you haven’t already seen it, I contributed to the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten again this year, so check out what made the top ten from loads of online film critics and bloggers.

This Top Ten is based on UK cinema release and I reviewed most the films in my top ten, so the links go to that original review if you want to know more of my feelings on these films.

I loved all these films and have put them in a rough top ten, though my top three are pretty solid.

Honourable mention: Free Fire
If you search for my list on the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten you’ll see Free Fire made the top ten – that was until I saw another film at the end of December which bumped it off. Free Fire is a completely bonkers film and I can understand why it’s not for everyone. I really enjoyed it though, the action kicks off straight away and it never really lets up, the characters are hilarious and the whole thing is absurd.

10. Battle of the Sexes
I saw the documentary The Battle of the Sexes at Edinburgh Film Festival in 2013, that was the first time I really learnt anything about Billie Jean King and equal rights in men and women’s tennis. I was so happy that the dramatization of these true events was so well-acted and as gripping as the real thing.

9. Wind River
This was a beautiful yet harsh film. The mystery is intriguing and sad, and the cinematography is gorgeous. The performances in Wind River are all brilliant and I was brought to tears a couple of times by them.

8. Dunkirk
I don’t think I’ve ever been so tense watching a film in the cinema. No matter what people say, seeing Dunkirk in IMAX is an experience. It’s tense, scary, upsetting and stressful. It shows the best and worst in people and is a brilliant film.   (more…)

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REVIEW: Hidden Figures (2016)

hidden-figures-posterThe true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians including Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who played a vital part in NASA during the early years of the American space programme.

Each of the three leads are brilliant in their roles. They feel like friends who laugh together and support each other but they are also so incredibly smart. Their chemistry is palpable. Katherine is a human computer and can figure out maths that hasn’t even been invented yet, Dorothy is wise enough to get ahead of the game, learn things like IBM computing and make her and her colleagues invaluable to NASA, and Mary wants to be an engineer and while her boss, a Polish Jew, can see her potential, she fights when every door seems to be shut in her face.

The supporting cast is great too. Jim Parsons’ Paul Stafford is one of the mathematicians who doesn’t like Katherine is smarter than him and just about every other man in the room, Kirsten Dunst’s Vivian Mitchell is Dorothy’s boss and Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison is in charge of the division that works out how to put a man in space and bring him down again.

Hidden Figures isn’t a particularly surprising film as it has the same standard formula just about any true story film has – but that doesn’t diminish how brilliant it is. Hidden Figures knows exactly what it is and it doesn’t need huge twists because the history and these women’s lives are interesting enough.

On a purely aesthetic level Hidden Figures is a beautiful-looking movie. The costumes, hair and makeup are brilliant and the soundtrack is full of catchy songs from Pharrell Williams and Mary J. Blige. The score reunites Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer and they produce music that’s exciting and heartfelt and fits the time period and the film itself wonderfully.

Hidden Figures celebrates those who history, and society, tends to overlook and shows the power of perseverance and friendship. It is amazing to see a film with three African-American leads who are masters in their field. It’s an inspiring yet also frustrating when you see what these women had to put up with, yet they still wanted to be a part of something amazing and contributed to NASA’s success. Hidden Figures will leave you with a huge smile on your face but along the way you may shed some tears, both happy and sad, and it’s really a great, crowd-pleasing movie. 5/5.